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Nike Step Further Into the Metaverse With Acquisition of RTFKT Studios

Nike RTFKT Studios

The metaverse arms race between sneaker brands is heating up in the final days of 2021! After Nike made its first real jump into the digital realm by announcing an expansive partnership with Roblox in November – and followed that up with an Air Jordan 11 'Cool Grey' activation in Fortnite – they've taken their biggest leap yet by acquiring RTFKT Studios, a group of digital artists, designers and more.

RTFKT Studios are best-known in the sneakersphere for their amorphic sneaker NFTs that do everything from change colours to display digital machinery that hisses and spins. In the past, they've also linked up with Jeff Staple for a combo 'Meta-Pigeon' NFT and real-life sneaker (as well as provide us with a hilarious image of Staple in a VR headset).

What exactly will RTFKT provide for Nike? According to Nike president and CEO John Donahoe, '[The acquisition of RTFTK] is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture. We’re acquiring a very talented team of creators with an authentic and connected brand. Our plan is to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community and extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities.'

RTFKT co-founder Benoit Pagotto echoed Donahoe's wide-eyed excitement, stating, 'This is a unique opportunity to build the RTFKT brand and we are excited to benefit from Nike’s foundational strength and expertise to build the communities we love. Nike is the only brand in the world that shares the deep passion we all have for innovation, creativity and community, and we’re excited to grow our brand which was fully formed in the metaverse.' According to Nike, the deal's financial terms will not be disclosed.

The partnership's possibilities are basically boundless, as new layers of the metaverse seem to be peeled back hourly in today's digital-obsessed world. However, in the short term we'll likely see exclusive Nike NFTs and digital art projects. RTFTK will also help Nike compete with adidas in the metaverse, as the latter recently partnered with Bored Ape Yacht Club and other digital creators to begin a digital journey of their own.

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